JUMP! Satan is Alive and Well 

“JUMP!” I heard someone yell.  The urgency in the male voice startled me, as I was still too far from the mountain landing to leave the safety of my lift chair.

It was my first trip to Heavenly Valley Ski Resort in California.  A friend and I had shared a chair on the ski lift that towed us slowly up the face of the mountain.  The view of Lake Tahoe was breathtaking, surrounded by emerald pine forests as far as the eye could see.

Behind us now, the town of South Lake Tahoe looked like a miniature on the rim of the sapphire blue Lake.

Skis dangling from our feet and ski poles at the ready, the thought of the adventure ahead was exhilarating.  At nineteen and full of self-assurance, if little experience, I could hardly wait to take on “the slopes.”

I have to admit to some butterflies in my stomach, knowing the lift would not stop when we reached that first landing.  I would need to ski off the moving chair, not knowing if I would be suddenly thrust onto a downhill trail toward disaster.

As the landing came in sight, others who had successfully skied off their chairs watched as we approached.  Surely, I could do this!

“JUMP!”  The insistent voice called out again.  Still several feet from the landing, I wondered if maybe momentum would just launch me ahead to safety with the others.

“JUMP, I SAID!”  The command startled me, and I was propelled forward off the chair. Big mistake!

Rescue on the Mountain

As if in slow motion, I felt myself slide backward over the face of the mountain.  The chair and my friend went on by, as another chair passed over my head.  In full panic mode now, I grabbed frantically at icy rocks and small pine brushes that dotted the steep decline.

I could hear people gasp above me, and a large man yelled down to me to, “grab the pole,” he held out.  I could barely reach it, but soon found myself being hauled up over the edge, my heart pounding wildly and tears welling up.  Both my friend and my rescuer nervously scolded me for skiing off the lift too soon. They were obviously as shaken as I was.

“Someone kept yelling at me to JUMP,” I tried to explain to onlookers. Their faces showed concern and relief, but also disbelief—apparently not having heard the voice. It struck me, I could have died on that mountain that day.

It would be years before I understood the source of that malicious voice.  But it would not be the last time that enemy of my soul would shake or try to end my life.

And you can bet, that same enemy who “prowls like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour1” means no less for each of our lives!

Author and Holocaust survivor, Corrie ten Boom, was raised in a family that instilled faith in God and common sense. It had kept her from such precarious situations.  She learned early that life is too precious to risk frivolously, as I had done with my often ill-considered, unskilled and godless escapades.

Yep, Satan is alive and well!

As a young girl, Corrie would have been the one safely enjoying a backyard swing set. While, I was one who had to hang by my heels from the galvanized crossbar above the swings.

Still, each of us in our separate lives was destined to be shadowed by that unfriendly “voice” that meant to do us evil.  For me, captive too young to an abusive marriage; then given to near-misses, still foolishly responding to that prompt to “JUMP” into iffy situations.

For Corrie, after a peaceful family life in Holland, came middle-aged imprisonment in Nazi concentration camps for doing good—hiding Jews from certain death. At that same time, I was still learning to walk, half a world away.

“Satan is alive and well!” I remember hearing that, even as a child, knowing little about the one the Bible calls “the enemy” and “accuser or our souls.”  Coming to trust Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior in 1984, I finally read the scriptures and realized the truth of that enemy.

Can anyone doubt evil exists?  Think of it….

WARS – Statistics show at least 108 million people died in wars in the twentieth century alone.  Estimates for the total number killed in wars throughout all of human history range from 150 million to 1 billion.  HOMICIDES equal nearly 400,000 each year.  ABORTIONS worldwide estimate 235 million (does not include countries where abortion is illegal, or where not reported).  SUICIDES estimate 703,000 each year worldwide.  On and on!  These statistics do not include genocides, medical/disease-related, and other tragic deaths. Nor, the physical and mental anguish many suffer.

Yes, evil lives!

“JUMP!” he says. And, for all the beauty God created here, some will throw caution and virtue to the wind and leap forward into unnecessary trouble and ultimate catastrophe.

Believing the right Voice

One has said, the greatest advantage Satan has, is that most people don’t believe he really exists, or that hell is a real place.  But can we just blame Satan, “The devil made me do it”?

Or is it that many of us, who unwittingly follow that mean-spirited “voice,” don’t believe in a loving God who sacrificed His only Son to save us from our folly, either!

Imagine being in a place where there is NO love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, honesty, mercy; no forgiveness.  That was what Corrie and her family found in those Nazi prisons.  Imagine then, being surrounded by evil and fear… forever. That would be hell!

Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsie experienced that foretaste of hell in Ravensbruck prison, and yet brought hope and Christ’s love and courage to many who suffered, body and soul, there.  As Corrie wrote, “I was a prisoner, and yet… [in Christ] I was FREE!”

Yes, Satan is alive and well—for now.  The Bible tells us3, “the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil”… that, BELIEVING HIM, we might also be free.

The IMPORTANT THING is, to hear and BELIEVE the voice of God through His word—His word is truth!  “Satan is a liar and the father of lies,” the Bible says in John 8:44.  We must choose who we will believe; one leads to death, the Other leads to eternal life!

The GOOD NEWS is, the day is coming when the Lord closes the door to this world, and sends Satan packing, permanently to the pit of hell—telling him to go “JUMP!”

 

1 1 Peter 5:8

2 1 John 3:8

Grace for Grace: The Dream That Inspired the Musical

It seems I had died!  In my dream, I was standing alone before an enormous set of gates. Closed and rising skyward like a mountain peak, the tops of the gates obscured by great billowing white clouds tinged with silver and muted hues of teal. The intricate grill work on the gates was like nothing I had ever seen. Or had I?

On each gate, a tall winged creature was woven into the lattice; gigantic wings pointing toward a creature on the opposite gate.

I remembered then, seeing similar artist renditions of two kneeling angels facing each other atop the Ark of the Covenant.

I was aware of nothing else around me.

Suddenly, I found myself standing inside; the still-closed gates now behind me. A man dressed in white stood several paces ahead with his back to me. As he turned, I recognized Him as Jesus, although unlike most artists ever depict Him. His eyes looked sadly back toward the gates. I turned to see what He was gazing at so intently.

There, desperate hands were reaching through the grill work far below the winged creatures. I could see the people’s lips moving, their eyes pleading to be let in, but could not hear their voices. Turning again, I saw Jesus walking away.

“Those are the hands of many you were meant to tell about Me, and you did not,” I seemed to understand.

Jesus was gone now, and it struck me deeply that He had not said what I’d hoped to hear—Well done, good and faithful servant.”  I had made it safely inside the gates, but sadly I knew the hands that were reaching toward me would be eternally left outside.

Beyond the Gates

That disturbing dream caused me to wonder what it was speaking to me, personally. Not that I believe all dreams have some deeper meaning; but this one was so real.

There, beyond the gates of heaven, I had wondered, “What more could I have done or said that might have made a difference for those outside?”

What might I do now?

The apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “God’s GRACE is sufficient.”  It’s humbling to be the recipient of God’s grace when, like Paul, you’ve thought of yourself as “the chief of sinners.”

The SAVING GRACE of God is that, although we deserve Hell for our sinful ways, when we stand before Christ one day (and we will), if we have trusted Him and HIS righteousness to save us, we won’t have to try to justify ourselves by the flimsy, raggish evidence of even our best earthly works. By faith in Him alone, we will be justified!

My dream had seemed to accuse me, “Those are the hands of many you were meant to tell about Me, and you did not!”

However, believing Christ’s sacrifice and His grace to be sufficient for salvation, why would I concern myself (in dreams or otherwise) that I had not done enough works?

In Romans 4:4, Paul wrote, “Now to him who works [to earn salvation], the wages are not counted as GRACE, but as DEBT.” Our salvation should cause us to do good works, but “good works” without faith in Christ will not save anyone.

Another Question to Ponder

What will cause the Lord to say to any of us, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’?

Although it is grace through faith in Christ that saves us, in Matthew 25, Christ assures us that the evidence of our love for Him (the “fruit” of our faith) will be the acts of the heart that we have done toward others. God will reward us according to the works we did whole-heartedly toward the hungry and thirsty, widows and orphans, those in prison; any in need of comforting, as though serving Christ Himself.

“What you have done unto the least of these, you have done unto Me,” Jesus said. It seems the more we extend our love and grace to others, the more Christ is served, and the more love and grace comes to us. Grace for Grace!

Birthing a Dream

Not long after my dream, my sister Donna Marquean Griggs and I began writing a musical stage play the Lord had put on my heart in 1986. I had procrastinated about that calling all those years. It’s the powerful true story of Christian author and Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom. Donna and I finally set her story to music.

It took a dream to begin the project in 2009—and “Ten Boom the Musical” was born!

Corrie’s life was full of grace for others; loving and serving millions in Christ through her testimony and her many books. I believe she would not have looked back at reaching hands when she entered heaven’s gates. Telling her story hopes to reach many more “hands” for His kingdom.

Near the end of Ten Boom the Musical, Corrie is about to be led away by a Nazi prison guard, when another prisoner who has mocked Corrie’s faith for months suddenly runs to her. Desperately, she asks Corrie how she can know God, before the Nazis take her life.

Corrie and “Giselle” sing the play’s signature song, “Imagine Perfect Love,” and Corrie’s amazing story ends on a high note after all!

~ ~ ~

Forgiving Our Enemies

In this New Year, many are reeling from the events of 2020; troubled by the prospect of what lies ahead. Covid-19 took a large toll on America and the world. So much was lost to it—businesses, jobs, security, certain freedoms, closeness with others—and, most tragically, many precious lives. It seems now, even America as we knew it might be lost.

Anger and frustration have reached a boiling point in many places. Sadly, forgiving our enemies and being compassionate to one another seems a distant concept for many in today’s climate.

People wonder about the future, while myriad voices seek to place blame and use their influence, even the pandemic itself, to gain an upper hand. Some, with ominous agendas, have fueled the emotions of others, only to create more havoc. Why? And where is it all going?

A while back I wrote a blog titled, “Remembering Corrie—Love, Don’t Hate,” based on the true story of Corrie ten Boom, who suffered and survived a Nazi death camp during WW2. If anyone had reason to hate and want to “cancel” her enemies, it was Corrie.  At one point, seeing monstrous injustice all around her, Corrie allowed hatred for the enemy to grip her heart briefly. Then she was reminded of the One who suffered most at the hands of the enemy. One who was nailed to a cross He chose to embrace as He sacrificed His life for our sins. Corrie’s heart melted at that remembrance.  Her sins had been forgiven, and she must forgive and love others as He did.

I also know what it’s like to be forgiven much!

A few years ago, I awoke very early, trying to find just the right words to write about His forgiveness in a new book. Not knowing how to begin, finally I prayed, “Lord how would YOU have us see forgiveness?” Almost instantly, the words came.  I was impressed to see forgiveness through Jesus’ own eyes—from HIS vantage point on the Cross.

The following is what I believe the Lord gave me that morning…

From the Cross

From my vantage point, high above the crowd—my vision all but obscured by the blood forming around my eyes, the faces of so many blur at times. I know each face… each heart… each of their dreams… what causes them joy… every tear ever shed. I know the fear in some who would rather I died, taking with me the knowledge of their secrets, than to confess the shame that placed me here.

The pain that racks my physical body, nailed here as I AM, is nothing compared to that which has taken over my mind. My eyes meet theirs as the depth or shallowness of each heart is consumed in me. My one link to Sanity [the Father] is distant now—grieving, and yet too Holy to look on the sins I willingly take upon myself.

The eyes below are unable to grasp what is happening at this critical hour—or why I came.  I know why each life is here—how it began—how it ends.   Some have come to empathize with me and, having forsaken their own way, to trust. They mourn my impending death, having yet to understand the need of it. Many look upon me and suffer deeply within themselves, FOR themselves, what they cannot let go of—cannot FORGIVE.  Still others are here to watch curiously, my nakedness twisting, rising and falling, as I struggle for one more breath. 

I hear the anguished cries below me—ABOVE me, INSIDE me.  And the mocking. They wanted it this way. But I know who and what they are.  I created them.  I LOVE them, even as they struggle to disconnect—part of them wanting to be free of me; part of them wanting to believe I would never leave them, nor forsake them—even now.

In this moment, so close to dying, I willingly lay down my life for ALL of them—from the foundations of the earth, throughout millennia to come—taking to myself every tear, every earthly pain; every vile and merciless act; until it seems my heart will burst.    

And now, before I FINISH this, I make one last plea on their behalf, as their true FRIEND.

To pray, with every fiber of my being, words that echo through my pain-racked head and mingle with my own blood, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do,” I would have to be God.  I AM! 

God SO loved us

There He was, beaten and tortured by those who thought He had been only a “trouble-maker,” not knowing they were crucifying the sinless son of God. The One who was born to die for our sins, because God the Father SO loved us!

Maybe you, like me for the first forty years of my life, are unable to grasp what incredible thing happened on the Cross that day in Jerusalem. I know now it wasn’t the end, nor merely another human tragedy. It was the most crucial event of all time that purposed to rescue you and me from a fallen world, that we might spend eternity with our Creator in the place He has prepared for those who love Him.

Is that not more than amazing?

Colossians 1:12-15 says, “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,  in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”

He laid down His earthly life in one final, excruciating, sacrificial, once-for-all act of FORGIVENESS.

For our own Peace of Mind…

I read these words over and over, as I have listened to the news lately. I want only to live my faith as a Christian woman and a free American; to treat others as I would have them treat me. That’s also a seemingly forgotten concept today!

But, for our own peace of mind, we must remember God made us and He loves all of us.

He said, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, FORGIVING each other just as, in Christ, God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).  He said to, “Bear with each other and FORGIVE one another, if any of you has a grievance against someone” (Colossians 3:13). Importantly, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. FORGIVE, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37).

Christ JesusGod with us on earthsaid, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have PEACE. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart—I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33).

Trusting Him, we will also overcome!